Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When will "big food" go the way of the ashtray?

Two columns in the news today fit hand in glove: (1) Ellen Goodman's column from The Boston Globe "Putting Obesity of the Business" and (2) a USA Today article "Cost of treating obese patients soars to $147 Billion.

I admit that I look at and react to far too many of the processed foods (and portion sizes) available everywhere (i.e., restaurants, ball parks, amusement parks, state fairs, movie theatres, etc) with the same eyes and revulsion as if I were seeing ubiquitous ashtrays. As a multi-time cancer survivor also trying my darndest to prevent or delay the array of other expensive and debilitating chronic diseases now occurring with alarming frequency in this country (some of mine like osteoporosis and heart disease are a result of my cancer treatments), I am first and foremost very protective of my health (no first or second-hand smoke for me nor that gigantic deep-fried onion in a serving size perhaps meant for 20 people), but I am also aware that every choice I make with my food is the final point of an entire food system that impacts much more than just my personal health (from climate change to social justice and much in between).

Knowledge is power. Although I have not yet seen it, I do recommend viewing the documentary Food, Inc. Many food companies may only have their profits for their bottom line, but each of us does have the ability to change something about the foods we eat to both improve our own health and everything else that is a part of our personal foodscape.

For starters, and only as a first baby step, eating much less meat will have the largest impact on improving your personal health, reducing global warming, and changing the current food system from one based on the chemical model to one based on a biological or ecological model. I actually wish the Meatless Monday education campaign was turned on its head to promote Meat on Monday Only! Since that will likely not happen soon, try reducing meat intake (especially red and/or processed meats of all kinds) to only 3 days per week plus also cutting your typical portion size in half. For the other days, choose from the dozens of meatless recipes on my blog and on my website that are family-tested and approved as tasty (job#1!) and health-promoting. Use as many locally and sustainably grown ingredients as possible, meats included (yes - I still use imported olive oil among other items not grown in my local area or even the US).

Your actions are an important part of the necessary sea-change, a multi-focused, multi-person solution to the many problems our country faces that are inter-connected as all biological systems are. Your actions are necessary and will make a difference. :-)

Be the change that you want to see in the world.
~~ Mohandas Gandhi

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Jen said...

I loved your title here, and the perfect analogy.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article by Michael Pollan..." processed foods have so thoroughly colonized the American kitchen and diet that they have redefined what passes today for cooking, not to mention food", this is why "my grocery list" is one taken from 100 years ago (if the food was around THEN, then it was more than likely A FOOD)...
Also, he was on Fresh Air on Mon. 8/3/09...


Rhonda Hoffman

Diana Dyer said...

My grocery list looks the same as yours. I even make my own veggie burgers now out of food instead of unpronounceable ingredients. I make them in bulk so we have our own "fast food" available from the freezer for those nights we need quick meals.